With limited funds, the Mets set out to rebuild the team through their farm system. After years of patiently holding on to young pitchers instead of trading them for more established players, they are finally reaping the benefits. They arguably have a top-10 starting rotation. Last season Jacob deGrom came out of nowhere to win the Rookie of the Year award, Zach Wheeler made major strides in his first full season in the bigs, and they get back their ace Matt Harvey after he missed 2014 while he recovered from Tommy John surgery. Their biggest problem is that they have too many starters, as Jon Niese, Dillon Gee, and Bartolo Colon will battle for spots. And don’t forget about Noah Syndergaard, the prized player of their farm system. He may make the bigs this year.
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAChristopher Hanewinckel
The Mets’ bullpen has been an issue for years, but those problems may be a thing of the past. This unit has greatly benefitted from the farm system being rebuilt, as home-grown talent started to impact the ball club last year. Vic Black, who played his first full Major League season last year with the Mets, excelled in middle relief. Jeurys Familia, who developed in the Mets’ farm system, was very effective in the set-up role, and Jenrry Mejia, who came up through the minors along side Familia, stepped in nicely in the closer role after Bobby Parnell went down for the season early on. With Parnell returning, the Mets have arguably the best bullpen in the NL East.
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Citi Field’s right-field fence was moved in
Last year the Mets were pretty average offensively. Left-handed hitter Curtis Granderson signed to a $60 million contract last offseason to add power to the lineup, but he had an incredibly disappointing season. With the Yankees, Granderson hit 41 home runs in 2011 and 43 in 2012. But in his first year with the Mets, he only hit 20. Moving the fences in should enhance his totals. Also helping the slugger out is the hiring of former Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long, who is credited with turning Granderson into a power hitter. Another player who will benefit from the shorter right-field fence is lefty Lucas Duda, who had a breakout season in 2014, hitting 30 home runs. Opposing batters will try to take advantage of the closer fence too, but the Mets are counting on dominant pitching to counteract that.
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Good mix of young and veteran players
Juan Lagares, Lucas Duda, and Travis d’Arnaud had breakout years last season. Couple that with all of the Mets’ young pitchers, and the youth movement is driving this team. To go along with that, the ball club has just enough veteran leadership to make this all work. Daniel Murphy made his first All-Star Game appearance last year. David Wright is feeling healthy after an injury-plagued 2014. Curtis Granderson looks to recapture his power with a shorter fence and the hitting coach who he succeeded with while playing with the Yankees. And the addition of veteran Michael Cuddyer will add some pop to their lineup.
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY SportsCary Edmondson
Wilmer Flores is the team’s weak link
The one glaring weakness is at shortstop, where the Mets spent the offseason looking for a replacement for Wilmer Flores. They were unwilling to trade any young pitchers, so they are stuck with him. If that’s their biggest problem, things aren’t so bad. The young shortstop is only 23 years old, and last year was his first extended action in the Majors. He is known as a capable hitter, which is a premium in today's game. His defense has been questioned, but pitcher Jon Niese recently gave him a vote of confidence: “He's not flashy at all, by any means, but he gets the job done. He's made some great plays behind me last year down the stretch.” Flores is going to get better and will more than likely be a serviceable player. If he’s their weak link, than they have a really good ball club.